Saturday, May 31, 2008

My AIM!!

AIM….Achieving Indispensability with an MBA!! How could my aim be anything else when I could achieve the heights I never could imagine with this chocolate topping? I wanted to do management…..sure I wanted to! Why??

Because….because….ummm…ahemmmm……because…..probably Vishal is planning to do the same and he being the topper is always bound to be right……or maybe because I wanted more from life than spending my years testing and coding…..or maybe because I hadn’t had enough of remaining a student….the freedom that came with it…or maybe because I had consistently maintained a 59.9% percentage throughout my engineering course leaving me out of the race for top companies who demanded a 65 plus and the lesser ones who would be satisfied with a 60 plus. Gosh…I didn’t want the scavengers lovingly called neighbors to pounce on me stamping me a loser and good for nothing engineer. I didn’t want my parents to have that sorry look whenever those morons enquired why I had not been able to land a job when my friend Harish from B-wing had managed one in his third year of engineering itself!! Yes this had to be it…..this was definitely the reason……the reason I decided to rise from the ashes from the fire I myself had set by not going the extra mile and digging into books. The fire I myself had set by joining this University which found joy in robbing the students of their marks. Why don’t the companies understand that different Universities have different marking patterns….you would see a guy from the X University getting a 90 plus percentage and still not be among the toppers of the batch, and you could see a guy from my University Y who at 68 percent is the University topper. Why don’t companies take this into picture when keeping their cut-off at 65 and sentencing the lesser mortals like me to a lifetime of gallows!! Yes….this had to be it…..I was a very good speaker and among the most creative of the batch…everyone suggested that I would be a right fit for management. Yes….I had to erase the dispensable tag that came with my average degree with the indispensability that came with a management degree…..This was why I wanted to do an MBA…..to stamp my mediocrity with a three letter word which I visualized taking me places. I wanted to do an MBA because of all this. I was so clear why I wanted to do it. No doubt whatsoever. Then why was I lying today. Why should I not tell what my heart feels and rip off the standard dialogue that guarantees you a seat in the most elite of institutions?

My interview panel consisted of three people. People were not having an easy time inside and had sweat glistening on their brows whenever they were freed from the hour long torture that was taking place inside in the name of interviews. I was pretty relaxed because this was my first interview and I had many to follow, primarily because of the decent score I had tried to manage myself in CAT and more importantly because my father was generous enough to let me splurge his hard earned earnings on applications to all top 15 institutes under CAT!! I had managed calls from 7 of these. My calmness could primarily have been due to this. I was not unnerved even a little bit when I saw a girl coming out red faced and bursting out. The guys around got into action by surrounding her and helping her out. I smiled at the thought of how blessed these gals generally where. They could command undivided attention at the slightest wag of a finger. And our race would look on eagerly waiting for that little wag of her finger. A second delay in noticing the wag, the alert ones would stamp you over. I smiled at the thought how I was amongst the one stamped today. The next tortured soul came out in half an hour. He had completely messed it up by saying he would leave this college if he managed to secure an admission in the School of Management. He came out and started shouting names at someone from the coaching classes he attended for polluting his views. Apparently the coaching classes had suggested this moron that being frank would be seen in good light. What they failed to drive into the pigeonhead brain of his was that you cant do a crash course in psychology and no two persons would take the frankness in the manner which was desirable. Maybe the same frankness would get him some brownie points in his next interview. It was all plain luck. My name was called in next to walk the red carpet. The coolness that exuded from me till this moment suddenly flied out my ear. I could feel it. Yes I felt it……it had decided to desert me. Fear gripped me. I tried to comfort myself, 6 other calls if this one doesn’t work out Balu. Don’t panic……don’t panic. I wished the panel and walked in. The interviewer looked at me. His eyes seemed to scan me from top to bottom. I was trying to look as confident as possible though I was shaking in my boots. I had a good GD and a good interview would virtually book my seat at the college. It didn’t matter if I had 6 other calls waiting for me. I would very well want to get this one and save my ass from repeated torture in the coming month! The introductory part went well and I had started to come back to my original self. I handled questions on current events with √©lan and moved on to eminent dangers that were in store for us if we failed to keep the thing in check. It was going good.

But how could it go so well. I was about to be asked to leave and a tick to fall on my name in the list when the serious looking guy decided to throw in a spanner. “Why do you want to do an MBA and what do you see yourself doing after getting one, Mr. Sandeep?” I smiled back at him. It was obvious right! I had bloody sat through the two hour ordeal called CAT and had sat through this torture from morning to do an MBA. Why do I need to put my feelings in words? My thoughts deserted me. Even though I knew that this would be a sureshot question in the interview, I had taken it lightly and thought that it would come on its own instantly at that moment. The moment had arrived but the answer conspicuously was absent. I knew why I wanted to do one as I have already discussed. If I would be frank enough to tell them that, I would have a badly burnt back at the end of the process. I said the first thing that came to my mind. “I want to be a marketing manager in a FMCG sir. That’s why I want to do an MBA because it is the prerequisite. Plus it seems to be a natural progression to my career.” What was I saying?? How on earth could I defend that natural progression into being a marketing manager in a FMCG from an electronics engineer?? Shit!! I had dug my own grave. The panel continued to decorate that grave with flowers and candles for the next half an hour. They lighted the last candle atop my grave when they asked me the final question, “Do you know what FMCG stands for, Mr. Sandeep?”

Thursday, May 29, 2008

Mission: Identify "GAP's" & get them filled!!!

Everyone wanted to establish himself. Every single soul you met was more than eager to mingle. The orientation week was being billed as “Gelling Week” among us. The handsome hunks & the cute gals were the first to be approached by the respective opposite sexes. The desire to get to know the maximum people and get to know their strengths and weaknesses would be of immense help once the grill would start after a fortnight. In all this mayhem, who was to notice a dark skinned tall guy! SRCC, LSR, Hindu and other Delhi University local gals were the prize catch. I was not the instant attention grabber to have the eyeballs veering towards my side, every time I walked through the hallowed corridors of the school of management. Adding on to it, I was an introvert. I simply can’t go to someone and start off a conversation just for the heck of it. I am more comfortable when someone comes down and chats and can take it ahead from there. I was no Greek God either to make them come down to me to start off a conversation!

Necessity becomes pregnant and ideas are born. We won’t discuss as to how necessity got pregnant in the first place. But I can reveal one thing…..the entire process to becoming a father to that “idea” is forced rather than being consensual. The ideas borne entirely depend on the physical fitness of the mass residing in the topmost drawer of the person responsible for making poor “necessity” pregnant. I am not among the chosen ones whom god had decided to bless with a superior brain. Necessity had started carrying the very first week of my arrival primarily due to two reasons. Seeing so many beautiful and intelligent lasses at one place as well as the deprivation from proximity to this race coming from a small engineering college added up to fuel the necessity!

I came up with an idea…and down the line I can say that it helped. For idea’s to be born, you need to see the opportunities and grab them. Opportunities can only be tapped if you are aware of your strengths and apply them. My strength was never going to the fairer sex and blabbering off. But as discussed earlier, I was at ease if someone started off a conversation and I could take it on from there! I was quick to notice that in the orientation we would be sitting in a random fashion and were free to sit anywhere. This freedom would soon be snatched once sections will be formed and we will be destined to sit between, say a roll no. 32 and 34!! Consider yourself condemned to death if no. 32 and 34 turn out to be males!! I teamed up with Rishabh, another of those frustrated souls for whom engineering had been all studies and no interactions!! We gave this mission of ours a name. Project “GAP”. GAP had nothing to do with the management jargons a consultant generally uses. Ours was for our own social betterment!! We would come down to our classes after grabbing a quick bite 10 minutes before other people would start pouring in, and take our seats. The thing to be noted here is that the germination of the idea lay in the fashion of our seating. Rishabh and I started sitting leaving a seat in between us. This gave us the authority to direct traffic moving on to our side. We had also noticed that the localites were the ones who entered into the class at the last minute after their share of gossiping and catching up. And till the time they entered almost all the good seats would be taken up. The only best seats left would be the one in between both of us. Though this would cater to only one girl at a time, we beggars would never say no to whatever dime came our side! Our effort of taking our seats and blocking the one in between would bear the maximum result with this target group, according to our initial brainstorming. We had planned it to such precision that we were dictating who would sit with us for the whole of coming week. There are bound to be small discussions with your neighbors whenever a complex problem or case is being discussed. We would clear their doubts with ease, because we already knew that to create an impression you need to stamp your credentials as an intelligent fellow. After the initial impression is created, latter errors would be regarded as a small thing! We would prepare well for every class to be in a position to solve whatever basic queries could arise! In a week, we were hanging out with the Rita’s & Anoushka’s of the class. We would offer our services to explain different ways the solution to the problem could be arrived at after the class and would keep the competition at bay in the canteen as well. Quite painful on the mental front for us, but we knew that we only had to put in a week of this academic effort to form our base!! The competition does not take long to decipher your strategy and launch their product to mar yours…but they were so dazed to react and understand the kind of show these innocent looking jerks were putting up that by the time they reacted, we were in the phone books of the high profile gals that mattered!! Cheers to our Project “GAP”….

Wednesday, May 28, 2008

Meet Balu(in his MBA days)....the narrator

My day starts at 8 in the morning and ends at 4…... again in the morning. A sleep which was legendary back in my engineering College is mysteriously missing from my dictionary here in MBA College. I have realized it the hard way that it is tough getting into a top MBA college, but tougher to get out of it. Professors start fuming and my batch mates laughing when I come out with my case analysis or try to find sense in MBA theories. Quizzes, assignments, presentations have replaced Roti, kapda, makaan from my most important things list. Though specializing in Finance apart from Marketing, Balance sheets & Cash flow statements rob me even of the precious 4 hours of sleep I get. Girls keep flocking around me only in dreams. I sometimes wonder who will pay me a fortune to manage accounts when I am hardly able to manage my monthly expenses!! Two places you can find me: either snoring away at the last bench or checking out food items at panditji’s dhaba.

Tuesday, May 27, 2008

Birth of a Celebrity at the School Of Management

The orientation week was in full swing at the School of Management. Engineers were fiddling with balance sheets and the commerce guys with quant. Needless to say, there was mayhem. I wondered whether I could survive 2 years of dissecting balance sheets!! Balance sheets scared the living daylights out of me the very first day I tried shaking hands with them. Assets and Liabilities….though I found it difficult to put the theory into practice where it mattered most, I did manage to find parallels in the outside world. Charming girls of the batch were potential assets which could make your two year stay a lot less stressful. But nothing comes easy! Especially when you have around 100 like minded noble souls salivating at the same thought! Mithun was no different. We had rechristened him “Mithun” on the day he arrived in the hostel because of his striking resemblance to Mithun Da. Mithun had already talked to the maximum number of gals in the batch when me and TJ were wondering where to start from! He was all over the place. Adding salts to our wounds, he would share with us the kind of discussions he had with the gals in college. I would simply exchange glances with TJ and wonder why could we not muster the courage! TJ had his own philosophy of “Wait…Everything has its time”. The hostel authorities had done the worst thing possible by asking us to share rooms for our entire stay here. We got along like a house on fire. Both of us were to be acknowledged as Masters in taking cases 2 years down the line, but like mortals we had no clue of what future had in store for us. What mattered was only the present. It would not be wrong to say that the journey to being that started off with Mithun.

We were the first to figure out that though we all would happily address Sudhaanshu as “Mithun” in hostel, it eerily changed to Sid in college! No one knew the reason. Maybe we had just about joined and hence didn’t want to spoil the image of anyone in the first week itself. Mithun was getting uncontrollable day by day. His stories of his so called new friendships every other day had us fuming! We had to get the better off him. I had no clue how all had started addressing him as Sid in the first place. TJ decided to cling on to him like a parasite the next day to find out his modus operandi. He was beaming when he came back later in the evening. He gave me a smile and said, “Pretty gutsy shutsy this fella is man!! Take my word for that. He throws around his ego like it were running out of fashion! I was wondering from day 1 that how come this bloody eats nothing & is still a weight on mankind! I have concluded after feigning to be friend that 85% of his body mass is EGO! You know what his first lines are when he walks up to a girl balu….you have to hear this out…..Hey, this is Sid here…99%ile….settled for School Of Management instead of calls from other biggies because I wanted to be at the top of the batch rather than be at a place where I would be average. Hey…by the way this is TJ….stays in my opposite room at the hostel. He could only manage 95 in CAT but he is good…take my word for that. But he needs to work a lil on almost all the subjects apart from eco which is his strength coz he is from the arts background!! One clean stroke and me out of the equation. Shit man!! Damn it, and the poor gal sees him as an ideal group mate if he happens to get into the same section as her. What can the gal do man….after all, she has to find someone who is brains for her group!! Lil does she know that this guy has shit in the top compartment!! He introduces himself as Sid Balu….he himself does….no prizes for guessing why everyone is calling him the same. We need to get into action dear. We are not preparing an obituary for him to address him in the manner he would like to be. We would follow the simplest path….if you cant match up to the latter, pull him down!!”

We reached college the next day to find Mithun talking away to glory with another one of the cute species. This time the one facing the brunt of his attack was Vicky, who was a fighter of sorts because he had the lowest %ile in the batch. Poor Vicky didn’t know whether Mithun was praising him or making his own case strong in front of this gal. We were prepared. Mithun saw us coming and in his heavily accented tone greeted us, “Hey TJ….Hey Balu…..How u fellas doing haan? You guys understood the balance sheet analysis I had explained to you in the morning. You better should have…coz Bodhu will burn your rear side in his class…….its him next!!” The girl let out a giggle!! It was then that me and Tj devised that greeting style for Mithun, which everyone followed till the last day of our college lives. Rumour has it that whenever someone meets Mithun even now after passing out, that step comes naturally to them! We both looked into each others eyes and gave an understanding smile. Next moment, we had jumped in unison in typical Mithun style with our legs apart and that swagger. The foot landed one after the other in a typical Mithun dance step and we exclaimed, “Oye Saala Mithun…Tu tension naa le!!” The gal burst out laughing. We followed that for the whole of that day. Any product launch takes its time to get on to people. After 3 days of marketing the greeting step and the greeting dialogue, “Oye Saala Mithun!!”, it was a rage. Sid died a silent death the following week…..Mithun had become “Larger than Life”!! J

Monday, May 26, 2008

The "REALTY" Shows!!!

The company had arrived on campus. With bated breath we sat in the Audi waiting for the “Big Guys” to give a quick presentation about their company and roles on offer. The subtle buzz that was slowly transforming into an irritating noise was soon overpowered by a prominent “Ssshhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhh….They are coming!!” from the PlaceComm guy who was standing near the door. I scanned the whole room from my seat. Everyone had put on a studios look on their faces. I could not control my laughter at seeing the usually mischievous TJ(my roomie) putting on the cloak of innocence with panache. The biscuit packets had disappeared and had been replaced with the pen and pad everywhere! I could not help giving a smile again knowing the fact that however great the presenters be, the only two things that would be noted down in the pages dedicated to this company by these guys would be “The Take Home” & “The Profile”…in that order. The presentation was a short affair because the company was a big fish and expected the attendees to know about the company rather than them spoon feeding the same. Resumes were submitted and in half an hour the flowers and to everyone’s surprise an equal number of weeds too had been shortlisted. The unlucky few proceeded to attend the next in pipeline while the shortlisted few began to check out their opponents.

The sight of people who will be fighting against you can both soothe your nerves and rattle your senses. 2 years of camaraderie ensures that you know the strengths and capabilities of your opponents. Something very dangerous in a battle where that kind of knowledge can ring death knells for you! I was slotted in batch 3. I read the other names in that list. The batches were divided into groups of 10 and there were a total of 5 batches. 50 people had been shortlisted out of the 100 resumes the company had received. Quite a number of shortlists going by usual standards which only meant that the GD’s would be a bloodbath!! The betting meter had odds stacked towards 2 shortlists per batch taking the total number of shortlists for interviews to 10. Gosh!! 10 out of 50 like minded people with similar credentials and aptitude. 10 out of 50 who had shown their might in CAT and beaten the blue out of competition to arrive here. It does not get tougher than this. The pressure to perform is immense and the battle with the brightest minds is the toughest you would ever come across in any stage of your life in future. Never had I been so unsure of what would happen. I quickly checked out the warriors I would have to eliminate to survive. I sweated at the sight. It seemed almost all the good speakers had conspired against me. Nano(Divya Chattopadhyay)..Mithun(Sid)…Chuchu(Rahul)…Major(Bharat)…Reddy(Kasturi)…gosh!! The probability of me being in the top 2 from this batch seemed remote! The first two batches had come out. The first batch was sent out in less than 5 mins and the reason was stated as “Fish Market”. The second batch managed to utilize their time and seemed to have done reasonably well. Topical GD’s were being given, which had me sweating again. Topical GD’s are like stepmothers. You never know when you might be deserted of all the love you are used to!! Batch 3 was called in…..We sat in the order that was assigned. The panel asked us to settle down and cracked a joke or two to lighten up the tension. You feel most miserable at the times when you are forced to laugh at a joke which you would have ridiculed had it been mentioned by your batchmate. Corporate manners….ahem ahem! Darwin’s “Survival of the fittest” theory fits beautifully into the scheme of things here. An apple is thrown at you in the form of a GD topic. 10 hungry kids make a jump at it for a bite. Whoever manages to bite or even nibble it stands with a chance of enjoying crates and crates of apples for a lifetime!! Funny are the ways of nature. The apple for which we would be fighting for was hurled towards us. The lady spoke, “The topic for the discussion today would be REALTY IS ON THE BOOM. You have a minute to think on the topic and 10 mins to discuss.” Deathly silence prevailed for the next minute. I could not get my mind to jot down points. I had no clue how the real estate market was doing. Shit man, TJ had forwarded me an article last week emphasizing that it was a popular topic. I had been foolish to not go through it. Some figures would have helped. I was taken aback when the lady ordered, “You may start”. One min had passed!! It seemed like her watch was running really quick. The slaughterhouse had been declared open. And I had not even polished my weapons. The Bengal tigress, Nano(Divya) started. She then said something which would make her immortal in campus folklore for years to come. Perhaps I do not rue the fact till date that I missed out on the company because that 10 mins gave me a week of laughter attack. I still can’t help smiling when I imagine the amused faces of the panel all the while Nano was blabbering. Poor soul. I don’t blame her. Perhaps the panel made a mistake by announcing the topic rather than writing it down. Perhaps tension molded her brain to think like that then. Perhaps she had not paid attention when the topic was announced. Whatever may be the reason, it was one of the most memorable GD’s that I was a part of.

Nano started off in a dynamic fashion. She speaks with such confidence that you cant help but applaud. That’s the reason she is called The Bengal Tigress out here. She roared, “I acknowledge the fact that reality shows seem to have gripped the imagination of the entire nation. But is grabbing eyeballs the only thing that matters? We need to question ourselves, Are these shows catering to the voyeuristic needs of its target group? Do the channels only care about the TRPs that these shows muster or is there anything ‘REAL’ in these shows? These are the points we need to probe in this discussion. I am of the view that these shows are a great means of revenue generation for the channels and at the same time aiding in shooting up the TRP's. One of the topmost in these list of reality shows are the ones graced by celebrities. We Indians are more often than not dazzled by the charm of celebrities. We yearn to discover every teeny weeny bit about these demi-gods off-screen. These shows present before us a more human version of these stars. The audience find themselves being able to relate with the stars in a rather realistic manner. They are so used of seeing their glitz and glamour that they welcome a non-glamourised version of the stars with open arms. They tend to start believing in what is being dished to them. When the drama queens amd the kings of popular Indian soaps jerk a tear or two in real it strikes a chord with the audience. But what they fail to register and question is the authenticity of the "Reality" term associated with these on-screen drama or whatever is shown in the name of back-stage drama!! Do these shows really stand a chance in front of reality talent hunt shows? How "Real" are they?? No one had interrupted her till now. Because all of us were gaping at her. What had she just done??? Had she got it wrong by misinterpreting “Realty” for “Reality” or was it us who had done the opposite?? We looked towards the panel who were exchanging puzzled looks. Nano was taken aback by seeing no one taking the baton ahead. She proceeded by handing over the baton to Chuchu forcefully. She looked towards him and said, “Lets see what Rahul has to say on this. Do you think there is anything ‘real’ in these shows Rahul?” She was desperate for someone to take it ahead. All of us were too dazed at what had just happened to respond. And there was Nano, smarting off and completely unaware thinking that she was the only intelligent one in the group. I think I missed out there. I did not see the golden opportunity that moment gave me but Rahul did. I think he would have got through even if he performed average in the interview given the sheer presence of mind he showed to veer the group back on track. He smiled and coolly addressed the group, “ I will discuss whether there is anything ‘real’ in these SHOWS later in the evening Divya. But I can definitely root for the fact and discuss it with you all that there is something ‘real’ about the Realty Sector!!”. The dazed crowd fell into place cognizant of the fact that the crap they had written in that dreaded one minute was totally relevant and the discussion went on smoothly. Divya had turned totally pink in embarrassment. I was silent throughout because my eyes had filled with tears and I doubted that I would burst out laughing if I dared to open my mouth!!

Friday, May 23, 2008

Day 0...The Goofers!!

Day 0!! The digit “0” is India’s gift to the world but little did Aryabhata know that this digit when prefixed with the word “Day” would spell hell for all management graduates. Management graduates…..bright young souls brimming with confidence and overflowing with jargons solid enough to bail them out of any tough situation that ever crosses their path. We are a thriving race…..fuelling the economic upswing of a nation set to become a superpower in a decade. Extinct is a word which will never be spoken in the same breath as management graduates because the rate at which this race is growing will definitely put India’s growth rate to shame!! All the species of this race out there would agree to the fact that never has and never will a day be more dreaded than the Day 0. It is the fight for the top companies and top profiles on offer. Draggers are drawn out and friends find themselves pitched against each other for that elusive spot in each of the big names that open shop in the campuses. There are two kinds of people who drown 99 times out of 100 in such circumstances. One with the lowest CGPA’s (Cumulative Grade Point Average) and the other lesser blessed ones without the gift of the gab. The earlier ones are the unfortunate ones whom the company weeds out from this garden whose cultivation after 2 years of nurturing and watering is finally put on sale, without giving them an opportunity to explain why they consciously decided not to let the water seep into their system transforming them into beautiful flowers for the last 2 years of their student life instead of being obliging plants who gobble up everything and bear flowers full of fragrance ready to be plucked by the who’s who of the corporate world for an unbelievable price!! Then there are some benevolent companies who pluck some weeds along with the flowers and end up discarding the flowers for weeds. These kinds we would be dealing with in the later posts. The next one is solely dedicated to the third kind of people who drown not because they don’t know to swim. They drown because they jump without hearing the whistle, complete their laps and raise their hands for the audience to acknowledge their victory and clap in unison. Realization dawns late on these unfortunate souls and when it does, the stories of these legends become campus folklore.

This Mallu from Gods own country, Devils own backyard would be opening up his diary from his yeM Bee yAe days and beyond sharing snapshots of this derailed out of focus journey of mine which is nowhere near to the definition of “Life” in Wikipedia(the new internet generation prefers using this than the traditional medium!!) Read the next post to meet the “Goofers”…….those who left the GD panelists gaping and their fellow batch mates in splits with their over enthusiasm and desperation!!